The Walk

Old age

“Old age: the crown of life, our play’s last act.”
~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

I had a lovely vacation this summer. I went to Slovenia and Croatia. I’ve visited some beautiful places and saw some impressive sceneries. When on the last day I sat on a bench in a nice park in Zagreb, thinking how grateful I am to have the chance to make this journey, I saw two women walking by. One pushing a wheelchair and one leaning on a cane. I guess the wheelchair is meant for the lady with the cane. My educated guess is that they’re in their late 70s maybe even early 80s. I couldn’t help but to follow them with my eyes.

The women walked slowly. My impression was that the lady with the cane couldn’t walk too fast and gets tired easily. They set a few steps and then they will stop to rest for a minute or two. The lady pushing the wheelchair awaits patiently for the lady with the cane to take lead and carry on. I couldn’t make out their relationship. They might be sisters or just good friends. Best friends even, I guess. They’ve definitely known each other for a long time. It’s like they are willing to stand by each other no matter what.

When I look at them, I couldn’t help but to think how their life must have been. Are they married, do they have kids, what have they endured? Are they happy? Do they have regrets? What are their biggest achievements. Are they grateful? Do they visit church every now and then or did they gave up hope and belief a long time ago?

All sort of questions crossed my mind. I would’ve loved to have a chat with them. To hear their stories. To get to know the things that they have experienced. To listen to their achievements and share their regrets, if they have any. I always think of people of old age as one big treasure chest, full of inspiration.

When I was sitting there, watching the treasure chests, my mind started to wander off. Slowly, just like the lady with the cane and it stops for a pause, too, at my past. I’ve learned to let that go a long time ago. But sometimes it still hits me. Don’t want to waste too much time in the past, I urged my mind to carry on and it wandered to my future. What will my future look like? That’s the most mysterious question no one can ever answer. My mind started to come back to me and it accompanied me again at watching the old ladies. And then it told me: make sure you don’t have regrets when you’re at that age. Live today and enjoy life! Whether it’s good or bad. Accept the things that cross your road. Be grateful for the things that you have. And keep on learning. Keep inspiring people and be inspired by life. The past gave you a present to build the future. So, live the present!

Life’s a funny thing. We’re not guaranteed a tomorrow. So, we must get the most out of it today. And if we are lucky to live till the age of the ladies in my photo we have to make sure that every day counts and that we don’t have regrets on the last day of our lives.

The women went on their way. So did I. As our ways separated I turned back a few times to watch them. They became smaller each time I turned around until eventually they’ve disappeared into the distance. This was the best scenery I’ve seen this vacation. I wish them both the best last act of their play.

Do what you love

“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.”
~ David Frost

Have you ever felt like you don’t know what you’re doing? As if you are lost on the road of life? No? Great! You’re happy with who you are and what you’re doing. Be grateful and enjoy every moment.

For those of you out there who do struggle with your jobs sometimes; I know how it feels. Sometimes you just got the feeling that you’re doing it merely to survive rather than enjoying it. You want to change that, but you’re too afraid to change the steady life that you’re living. Because every change will cause insecurity and you don’t know what it’ll bring. It’s okay. I get it. It is scary. But do keep in mind that it’ll always stay the same way. If you don’t change it, it won’t change itself.

But why giving up something that is safe and start doing something that we can’t predict the outcome of…

Let me tell you why: because you won’t be happy if you keep doing something that you don’t really enjoy. Imagine something that you hate to do and you have to do it the rest of your life. For instance, I really don’t like vacuuming at all, but I have to do it, otherwise I get a dirty house. I can make myself comfortable by listening to music while I vacuum and that’s okay. I can survive it once in a while. Even when I have to do it twice a week, it’s still be fine. But now let’s assume that vacuuming is my job, I have to do it day in, day out…. It’ll drive me crazy in no time. If that is what you feel about your job, then it’s time to change! Because if you don’t it’s not only affecting you but at some point it will also affect your surroundings; your family and friends. People you care about. So, step over your fear and start doing the thing that you love. So you can be really happy.

One of the reasons that we’re not eager to change what we’re doing, is the fear that it will be not successful. We tend to think about the outcome instead of the process. That’s because we live in a material world. Bills need to be paid, mouths need to be fed. But when we think that way, success will not come. We all know some stories about successful people. If you compare those stories they will have one thing in common: they didn’t think about the outcome when they started to do the thing that made them successful. They just did it because they believe in it. Sometimes we need to be bold and just start. Deep down in your heart you know what you have to do. But instead of listening to our heart we let our minds overrule.

Now, you don’t have to quite your job or change your life drastically in order to do the thing that you love. But you have to at least make a start and do it. Make time for it and pay attention to it. If you want to be a painter, start to paint! Do it in the mornings, the evenings or at night! But just start picking up a brush and dip it in the paint and make something cool! If you want to be a writer, all you have to do is pick up a pen and a notebook and start doing it. Jot down your thought, your ideas, start a blog, share your stories. If you believe in it and you believe in yourself, you will make it successful!

Believe in yourself, believe in the thing that you love to do. Pay attention to it and let it grow. Baby steps at a time, but give it a chance to let it grow!

 

I finally did it!

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.”
~ Tony Robbins

111.

11 January.

Today I’ve finally uploaded my first vlog on Youtube! I didn’t pick the date on purpose. It just happened to be this day. I already had a story and shot the footages in early December. But destiny seems to want me to have everything ready by this day. So, I can launch my vlog on a memorable date.

This is my journey to fulfilling my dreams! In September I posted a blog about what I wanted to do the most. I’ve told everyone I love to be a screenwriter and that I wanted to start a vlog on Youtube. In the mean time I have made a lot of new writers friends and even joined a film team to assist their script team. And with my first vlog online I’ve gained another mini win. I very much enjoy creating the contents and I intend to make more of them.

I’d like to create different contents about diverse subject matters and I would love to hear from you what you think of it. I love to capture every day moments of life. Moments that happen, because they happen. I urge myself to enjoy the little things that cross my roads, things that we see but might not notice. But if we pay a little more attention to it, it might make us very happy.

To me, life is about following your heart and do the things you want to do. Although it might be a bit scary, but when you dare to loose your footing for a short moment you can gain so much satisfaction when you found your balance again.

Live your life with joy and remember your dreams.

Dare to laugh even when the road of life is a bit rough.

Do the things you love the most and do it with all heart.

I invite you to come along with me on my new journey. It’ll be a very exciting one!

 

Enjoying the journey

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
~ Lao Tzu

It’s been more than a month since I’ve attended the London Screenwriter’s Festival. Time really does go by too fast.

I have enjoyed every bit of this wonderful event! Starting from the opening speech till the last drinks with fellow writers at the Globe, a lovely pub. I’ve met a lot of new friends, fellow voyagers on the writer’s journey. I learned a lot from well-known speakers; heroes of every screenwriter. Above all, it provided me exactly what I was looking for: acknowledgment. Fellow writers who treat me as writer too.

A few years back when I finally had the courage to take a step onto the writer’s journey, I was pumped with energy. It felt good! It still feels good. Like I’ve finally found the right path. I started with a blank screen and now I can call myself the writer of a feature screenplay and several short scripts.

But as the journey advances I started to feel lonely too due to the lack of fellow travellers who understand what I’m doing and what I stand for. I have no one in my surroundings with whom I can share my struggles and discuss about writing. It’s like being lost in the ocean holding just a raft. While I was trying to keep my head above water, I started to lose my motivation. Slowly procrastination became a habit.

Fortunately, somewhere in the ocean there is an island called LSF. And I started to swim to it. When I’ve reached it, I found out that it is a very big island. I felt a bit tense stepping onto this island for the first time. But tense faded away immediately when a fellow writer reached out to me. And from that moment on I’m reassured that this is a safe haven for writers!

Everyone is welcome at LSF! Whether you’re a novice writer or a seasoned master of the craft, LSF greets everybody with a warm embrace. Complete strangers would make contact with each other and it doesn’t feel strange, because we all have one thing in common: the passion for writing. It’s like one big family and I am grateful to have found this family.

Although I started this journey many years ago, it is not until now that I finally feel to have leapt one big step forward. With so many fellow travellers around to share my adventures with this trip can only get better and better! And I can safely explore the ocean without feeling lonely again!

You too can be part of this big family! LSF is offering an early bird ticket now. Go to the website HERE and grab this deal!

Things I’ve learned from being unsuccessful

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”
~ Albert Einstein

There had been moments in my life when I felt myself being useless, even a failure. When I thought about what I have achieved and what my parent’s expectations were, I could really cry. I felt like I have disappointed them in so many ways. Although they are not here anymore it still weigh on me sometimes.

But what exactly is success? Who decides if you’re successful of not?

It took me some years but I finally realise that success is merely a measurement and every person handles a different scale.

Allow me to share with you what I’ve learned over the past decade and how I measure success now.


Self-pitying does not help

It all starts with self-pitying. You see family or friends achieving one success after another. Family and friends always talk about the ONE who has accomplished a big thing. Your head is spinning, thinking what did I accomplish? Why don’t they talk about me? Well, who cares? Today they talk about the one, tomorrow they’ve already forgotten the one.

The point is, don’t compare yourself to others. Because in your eyes they will be always more successful than you. Focus on yourself! Start thinking what you did. Did you start writing that novel you always wanted to write? Did you start baking a three-layered cake you’ve always wanted to bake? Or maybe you want to climb the Mount Everest in a Pokemon cosplay suit? Put on the suit and start training! Just do it!

The moment you start to do whatever you want to do, even the smallest amount of effort is already success. You can now tell people you actually did it! If people know, it will motivate you to finish it. But if you don’t start, you will never taste success. And miss out all the fun of seeing peoples astonished faces when you tell them you’ve actually put on a Pokemon suit and climbed a wall!


Shift your focus to feel success

For a long time I only think I failed because it took me a very long time to finish my first screenplay. Actual writing became the measurement of success. If there are no words flowing from my fingers and hitting the computer screen, I think of it as a failure.

But then I realise that I have done research for the topic I’m writing about. I’ve read books about screenwriting. My head spins thinking about plots and story.

I’m not failing my writing. No words on my computer screen doesn’t mean I’m not writing. Because every minute of the day I am thinking about the story and I jot down notes. That is part of the writing process too.

So, not doing exactly what you want to do, does not mean you’re not successful. It’s the process that counts.


Recognise you successes

No matter how much success you gain, if you yourself does not recognise it you will still be unsuccessful.

Start with the small things. If you have achieved 2 pages of writings added to you story instead of ten, tell yourself that it is okay. Because you have two pages instead of zero!

Learn to be satisfied with even the smallest thing you have achieved.


It’s all in your mind!

Change your mindset! Tell yourself you are already very successful! I might be a screenwriter with zero productions. Yet! But I am a successful screenwriter. Because I have actually finished a screenplay and I’m working on other scripts too.

Hell, I am a successful mother taking good care of my kid, cooking for her, helping her with homework and tuck her in bed.

I am a successful employee as I always give a 100% at work and carry out my duties with great care.

I am a successful friend as I always make my friends laugh and have fun when we’re together.

Get it?


And remember: success is just a measurement

Success does not mean the same to everyone. No matter what you do, there are always people who think it could be done better. But there are also people who admire you for what you’ve done! Don’t lose yourself to the negative comments. Stick close to yourself and listen to what your heart tells you.

So, in the end, what’s my story about?

It’s simple. If, on a scale from 1 to 10 you always set 10 as being successful, I can assure, you will always be a failure.

Nobody is perfect and certainly nobody can achieve tens all the way. If you succeed to achieve a 10 once, twice or maybe three times, well, spread it over a life time, I can really say, u suck.

But instead, why not just set your scale at 3 or 4 or maybe 6, wouldn’t you feel a lot more comfortable and successful?

Life is not just about successes. It is, well, about life! About being alive! Enjoy every moment of it. Enjoy every moment you are chasing success and don’t just fixate on reaching success. Let the ride thrill you as well. Although at the end you don’t succeed in what you wanted to do, you have at least tried and enjoyed doing it.

Downton Abbey, reviver of my writing spirit

“To persevere, trusting in what hopes he has, is courage in a man.”
~ Euripedes

In the past few months I’ve finished and rewritten my first screenplay. I’ve even sent it out to some screenwriting contests. I was very proud and satisfied and It gave me strength to carry on.

The idea for my first story came to me rather easily and I do strongly believe in this story. But now that it is finished I felt myself falling into a dark hole. I have another story in mind but it doesn’t feel as strong as the first one. So, I started to doubt. I doubt myself, I doubt my capabilities, I doubt my skills.

While I was self pitying I thought I might as well watch some TV series or movies to cheer myself up (and for research of course!). As I was curious why Downton Abbey was so highly recommended (and because of the wonderful Dame Maggie Smith) I started to watch it on Netflix. After the first episode I was already hooked.

It was not a very good idea, starting to watch it; I finished watching four seasons in three days! After that my mind could only think of Downton Abbey! And every character flows in my mind all day long. I think about the fate and fortune of all characters. The good ones and the ill-minded ones. That doesn’t happen often when I watch a movie of series. I did not only enjoy the serie, I actually learned a great deal from it!

Every scene of every episode is so well constructed. Every bit of it contains intrigue, suspense, conflict and mysterious twists that moves the story forward and hook the audience. Every character is so well built that makes the audience curious about all their fates. From the earl to the footmen, from the ladies to the kitchen maids. Every story line is just so fabulously written. Watching the serie is almost like you’re a part of it yourself!

It could discourage a novice writer like me. Because watching such a masterpiece can make a novice writer, who struggles with story construction and writing, feel very small. But the odd thing is, I don’t feel that way! Downton Abbey was a wonderful gift to me (or rather, a subscription on Netflix was a wonderful gift I gave myself). It gave me courage to persevere writing. Julian Fellowes has shown me the tricks of how a good story should be and what good scenes need in order to push the story forward. He gave me strength to keep on constructing stories. And I just hope that one day I will have such a masterpiece of my own that people will love to watch.

 

Carol, saviour of my writing soul

“Flung out of space.”
~ Carol

Carol is literally flung out of space to me. I watched this movie a few weeks back and it hit me hard. It’s such a beautiful, delicate and gorgeous movie. Todd Haynes really blew my mind with his directing! Phyllis Nagy inspired me to keep on writing. This movie will stay #1 on my most favourite movie list.

I fell in love with this movie instantly. Read about why I love Carol so much here on the Londen Screenwriters Festival website.

Writer’s foreplay

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.
If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”
~ Albert Schweitzer

I always had that romantic image of a writer in my head: a melancholic appearance, hanging over a laptop in a coffeeshop, sipping a cup of black coffee, typing away the words which hit the screen like water hitting breakers. Occasionally shedding an eye on a small notebook at the corner of the table and then continue processing the information into the story on the bright screen.

Unfortunately, I found out that it doesn’t work that way. Being a writer is everything but romantic. It is hard work! You can’t just write away and and skip the foreplay. The foreplay of a writer isn’t romantic either. It means a lot of research, outlining, structuring and absorbing all kinds of information about the subject you are writing.

The foreplay is necessary! I made the big mistake of skipping this proces and followed the image of a romantic writer, eager to become one of myself. I failed!

As a novice writer I started to write my first story without preparations. Well, of course I did some structuring and outlining. I knew, for instance, who my protagonist is and what her goal will be. I focused on it, wrote down some notes about her and her goal. I also knew who the antagonist is and what she wanted from my main character. Well, that should be enough, right?!

I didn’t work out a detailed outline. Just worked out half a story structure. Didn’t get to know my story characters as good as I should have and what they do and what they really really want. I didn’t work out the side characters and their stories. I just started to write down my story while the foreplay wasn’t even getting warm let even hot. I managed to get words processed on my laptop. But the more I wrote, the more I got lost! The story went a whole different way than I had planned! All the characters did something different than I wanted them to. The main story did stick a bit, but all side stories went astray. I had to adjust the story while I was writing and it took me a lot of time to get it straight again. When I finally typed “Fade out” the outcome was a whole different story than I had in my mind in the first place. The rewrite was fun though. But that was only after I wrote a detailed outline and set up a new structure. And I made a character sketch for every character that appears in the story and got to know them again. If only I had started with these preparations in the first place, it could’ve saved me a lot of precious time.

So, the next project I started, I did my research and structuring well! The writing went a lot smoother than my first project and the story sticks! It saved me a lot of struggling while writing.

This is one thing I learned: just consider writing is your love relationship. You can not just reach an ecstatic state without hugging and a kissing. The more you know about your partner and his or her needs the better your love life will be! The same works for writing. The better you do your research and structure the better the outcome will be!

Don’t make the same mistake I did! Be well prepared if it concerns your precious story! But by all means, if you have made the same mistake I did, don’t give up! Just get over it and keep on writing! Learn from the mistake. Make the second attempt a better one. And the third one even more better. Because, if that is what you love to do, you will somehow learn to play the first bit and successfully get to the ecstatic stage!

More on structuring:
Find some strong facts about structure by Bang2Write here
Some interesting structuring tips article on ScriptMag.com: The Four Act Structure

The Voyage of Writing

“The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
~ Marcel Proust

Over the past year I had learned about writing techniques. I’ve read dozens of books and watched hundreds of videos on the internet to acquire the knowledge of writing.

I learned about structure and about building characters. I’ve read that a writer has to use different words to describe the story to draw the readers attention. I gathered valuable information about writing techniques from well known writers on the internet. With all these knowledge I started writing my first project, a screenplay. It was then that I start to struggle with the story!

How do I develop a story? I couldn’t find much about it on the internet! Well, sure! I had ideas! I did have parts of the story in my head. But how do I connect all the loose parts and mash it into one smooth story? I felt a bit lost…

So, I took some time to let all the information subside. I went out for a walk to get some fresh air. After a short walk I bought a cup of coffee and sat down on a bench to enjoy my favourite drink. I watched people walk by. Dogs sniff at everything. Small children try to walk away from their mothers. And clumsy mothers who try to catch up with their runaway toddlers while carrying heavy diaper bags and pushing baby-buggies. And suddenly I realised that I can find stories everywhere. All I had to do was to open up my senses and observe everything around me!

Last Friday while I was waiting for the metro I picked up a conversation of a group of students. One of the students held a tripod in one hand and while talking he used his free hand to show his friends how a motorbike passed him closely when he walked on the curb that morning. His friends all gasped when he showed them how close the motorbike passed him. He was furious about the incident as he was almost hit by the two-wheeled vehicle. He used almost every part of his body to describe the incident. When he flung up his occupied hand the tripod almost hit a woman who stood a bit too close to the group. The woman did a step back. The talking student’s cheeks turned red when he realised he almost hit someone. He apologised immediately. The woman smiled and walked away quickly.

I was surprised that I described the whole scene in my head with words. Before I started writing I would watch the incident and didn’t pay much attention to it. But now, I observe the actions and overhear the conversations and I try to think about how I would tell the story, what words I would use and how I would describe the situation.

I guess that’s the thing with writers. They observe and write at the same time. Good thing I always have a notebook with me. So, I can write down all the details and things that I see. Or smell. Or feel. All the things I need to build a story.

Try to have new eyes on every journey you take. Whether it is at home or at the supermarket or a busstop: there’s a story everywhere! But you must have the right eyes to see it and an open mind to let it in.